Feeding wild birds in your garden provides them with food sources all year long. Furthermore, birds in areas with backyard feeding stations tend to experience less stress levels and are in better overall condition than their counterparts who don’t receive such nourishment.
Choose a “no mess” seed mix to reduce any debris beneath your feeders and offer peanuts that are unsalted and unflavored for even further reduction of mess below them.
Birds rely on various plants for food. To maximize bird nutrition, select native trees, shrubs and perennials with fruits that ripen at various times throughout the year; dogwoods, serviceberries, blackberries and blueberries produce fruit in summer and fall and contain more lipids (fats and oils) than non-native species’ fruits which makes them more nourishing to nesting birds.
Perennial plants such as penstemon, bearded iris and coral honeysuckle provide seeds throughout winter, while thistles (such as statuesque globe thistle) and prickly pear (Eryngium) provide important nutrition to birds during late summer and early fall.
Trees and shrubs that produce berries provide essential fats to migrating warblers during the fall migration period, while sparrows rely on bayberry or crabapple fruits during the winter for survival. Leave fruit-bearing plant seed heads intact so that winter feeding birds may take advantage of them; avoid raking your garden for an unraked appearance that’s less attractive to predators.
Bird feeders can be an enjoyable way to observe and feed local wild birds in your yard. In particular, bird food can keep birds healthy during periods of drought and severe cold.
Promote biodiversity. Attract rare bird species to your garden and you might discover that other plants, like flowers and vegetables, benefit.
Feeders can also introduce disease and other risks when they bring birds together in close proximity at regular intervals in one location, and act as hiding places for predators such as free-roaming cats and hawks. It is therefore vital that feeders are kept clean by regularly cleaning off hulls, spilled seed and any waste left on the ground; in addition, you should refrain from feeding oily seeds such as black-oil sunflower or white proso millet which quickly turn rancid.
Most bird species require water for drinking and bathing purposes, the latter of which helps keep feathers clean by washing away parasites from them. Furthermore, water provides cooling relief during hotter weather.
Setting out fresh water sources in your garden is a surefire way to attract wild birds, from simple bowls or plates, old dishes or plant saucers, all the way up to purpose built bird baths or fountains – and even adding an attractive feature such as a pond can bring wildlife closer.
Many seed-eating birds such as tits and greenfinches require water to help digest their diet, which typically contains little moisture. Access to water is especially crucial during winter when natural sources may become frozen or covered with snow; birds also like bathing in it to cool off as well as taking dust baths which help protect their skin against parasites.
Birds rely on natural materials for nesting purposes, making trees, thorny shrubs and hedges the ideal home for them. By planting native species such as teasels, sunflowers and globe thistles that attract insects that feed onto birds’ young as they develop, more birds may visit your garden to feed off of insects that feed onto them – not to mention seeds from these flowers that they feed themselves! Leaving gardens “messy” by not raking and cutting grass too short makes your yard even more appealing to birds who will seek leaf litter, twigs branches and moss as potential homes!
Planting trees, flowers, berries and shrubs will attract birds year-round; providing additional food will draw them in for winter. A bird bath and place for dust bathing will attract sparrows; water features like ponds or rain barrels offer water-loving songbirds the chance to drink up. Leaves left on perennial beds or beneath shrubs also serve as food sources, giving caterpillars food sources.